June 1 — Conference Finals Goalies, Preview & Time Travel

Yesterday’s NHL Score

Last Night’s News 📰

ST. LOUIS STAYING IN MONTREAL: Yesterday, Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes stated that he expects to finalize a contract with head coach Martin St. Louis to return next season. St. Louis went 14-19-4 after replacing Dominique Ducharme in Feb. 2022.

BINNINGTON COMES CLEAN: Water(bottle)gate is over—if it was ever actually a thing in the first place. At the St. Louis Blues’ year-end media availability, goaltender Jordan Binnington admitted to being responsible for the water bottle chucked at Colorado’s Nazem Kadri during a live interview. The Kadri-targeted toss came after the Avalanche forward drove hard to the net and injured Binnington during their second round series.

AVALANCHE OF GOALS: The Colorado Avalanche and the Edmonton Oilers started the Western Conference Final off with a bang, scoring 14 goals in an 8-6 Avalanche victory. Cale Makar led the way for Colorado, scoring a goal and adding two assists.

KUEMPER LEAVES GAME 1: Darcy Kuemper left Game 1 at 7:19 in the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return. Kuemper gave up three goals on 16 shots before Pavel Francouz took over, also giving up three goals while making 18 saves.

The Last Time When…

Tampa Bay Lightning, Eastern Conference Final – 2021

  • Pekka Rinne announced his retirement from the NHL. The goaltender spent his entire career with the Nashville Predators dating back to the 2005-06 season.
  • Elon Musk’s spaceflight company SpaceX launched the first all-civilian spaceflight. The spacecraft climbed to nearly 125 miles (201 km) above Earth.
  • The “Friends” cast reunited on HBO Max. Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, and Matt LeBlanc stepped into Monica and Rachel’s apartment one final time, leaving fans wondering if they could be more emotional.

New York Rangers, Eastern Conference Final – 2015

  • The 2015 NFL season saw the hiring of the first female coach (and first female on-field official), as the Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter as a coaching intern. She worked with the team’s inside linebackers through the offseason and preseason.
  • Johnny Depp and Amber Heard got married on the actor’s private island in the Bahamas before two dozen guests. The now divorced pair met while working on “The Rum Diary,” in which they co-starred, and have taken over mainstream media as their defamation trial recently concluded.
  • Connor McDavid made his NHL debut on Oct. 9, 2015, facing Brian Elliott and the St. Louis Blues.

Edmonton Oilers, Western Conference Final – 2006

  • Carolina Hurricanes center Rod Brind’Amour won his first Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game.
  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet because Pluto did not meet all the criteria for a solar system object to be considered a planet.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen introduced Borat Sagdiyev, a fictitious reporter from Kazakhstan traveling throughout the USA recording real altercations with Americans.

Colorado Avalanche, Western Conference Final – 2002

  • Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears announced their shocking breakup to the world. The golden couple officially announced they were together in 1999 at the height of NSYNC and Spears’ musical careers.
  • South Korea and Japan hosted the FIFA World Cup of soccer. It was the first time taking place in a location other than Europe or the Americas. Brazil defeated Germany to win the final, becoming the first team to win five World Cups.
  • Lucas RaymondOwen Power, and Quinton Byfield were born.

Eastern Conference Final: Bolts vs Blueshirts

While the Eastern Conference Final may not offer the same wild offensive flurry that Game 1 of the Western Final produced, the clash between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning promises to bring its unique brand of excitement. You’ve got a starry Original Six side at one end of the ice that plays in the biggest North American sports market. On the other end, you have the talented two-time defending champions fresh off a dominant sweep of the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers.

Yeah, this should be good!

Battle in the Crease

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“Who’s the best?” is typically a fun, hypothetical debate with a few buddies at the pub that has no absolute answer. In this series, seeing Tampa’s Andrei Vasilevskiy square off with New York’s Igor Shesterkin in a clash of the league’s two best netminders might be the closest thing we can get to an actual “who’s the best?” playing out.

Rest vs Momentum

By the time the puck drops tonight for Game 1, it will have been nine days since Tampa last played. Conversely, the Rangers have triumphed in two consecutive seven-game series and have one meager two-day gap between games dating back to the start of the postseason. There’s no question which side will have fresher legs, but can the Lightning step right back on the ice with no rust showing after some significant time off?

Barclay’s Back

Barclay Goodrow, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Barclay Goodrow is a two-time Stanley Cup champion thanks to Tampa Bay, but now he’s hoping that his third Cup win comes at their expense. Part of the club’s famed third line alongside Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman, Goodrow followed the other two out the door after being traded to the Rangers for a seventh-rounder and cap flexibility. Now, he gets the chance to prove to his former team that he deserved better than simply being a cap casualty.

The Final Four Goalies

We’ve reached the conference finals of the 2022 NHL Postseason, and there are plenty of storylines surrounding the final four teams. These include the Lightning looking to win their 11th straight playoff series and compete for their third straight Stanley Cup title to arguably the two most skilled forwards in the league (Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon) battling each other.

One always present storyline is how strong each team is between the pipes. Let’s look at the final four starting goaltenders and their tasks of defending the net to help lead their respective teams to the Stanley Cup Final.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

Andrei Vasilveskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

We start with the most accomplished goalie remaining, as the 27-year-old Vasilevskiy won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender (2018-19), the Conn Smythe Trophy (2020-21), and two Stanley Cups (2019-20, 2020-21). In 92 career playoff games (87 starts), he is 57-32 with a 2.24 goals-against average (GAA) and a .925 save percentage (SV%). He has also been the best of the four goalies remaining this postseason, going 8-3 with a 2.22 GAA and a .932 SV%. His last start was arguably his best, as he made 49 saves in a series-clinching shutout of the Florida Panthers.

Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers

Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Across the ice from Vasilevskiy will be the 26-year-old Shesterkin, who will likely win his first Vezina Trophy after a regular season in which he went 36-13-4 with a league-best 2.07 GAA and .935 SV% in 53 games. Although he started one playoff game in 2020, this is Shesterkin’s first real postseason experience, posting a 2.68 GAA and a .928 SV% in 14 games. The first of those 14 games was an 83-save effort in a 4-3 triple-overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Shesterkin was consistently strong in the seven games against Carolina, limiting the Hurricanes to one goal on three occasions and allowing more than two goals only once.

Darcy Kuemper, Colorado Avalanche

Darcy Kuemper, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The 32-year-old Kuemper, who had started more than 30 games in a season one time before this year, set career highs for games played and wins in 2021-22, going 37-12 with a 2.54 GAA and a .921 SV% in 57 starts for the Avalanche. Kuemper, who hasn’t seen as much action as his two Eastern Conference cohorts, is 6-2 with a 2.44 GAA and a .904 SV% in nine games. The discrepancy between the GAA and SV% is because he has only faced 30 or more shots in three of those games. Last night, Kuemper stopped 13 of 16 shots before leaving midway through the second period due to injury.

Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers

Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

At 40 years old, Smith is the oldest starting goaltender remaining. He also had the least productive 2021-22 regular season of any of the four, missing time due to injury and finishing 16-9 with a 2.81 GAA and a .915 SV% in 28 games (27 starts) while experiencing some rough moments this postseason. However, Smith has also had moments of brilliance, like when he shut out the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 in Round 1, and has been strong this postseason, going 8-3 with a 2.70 GAA, a .927 SV%, and a league-best two shutouts in 12 games.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket

Stanley Cup Playoffs Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule